Egypt's Sisi wants change... your change!

Egypt's Sisi wants change... your change!
2 min read
28 Sep, 2016
A plea by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi asking the public to donate their spare change to fund social projects has sparked a rush of wry commentary from Egyptians.
Sisi urged citizens to donate change in his latest bid to revive the economy [Getty]

Egyptians have responded with bemusement after calls by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday for citizens to donate their spare change to fund charitable projects.

During his speech at a ceremony for the launch of a housing project in Alexandria, President Sisi urged citizens to donate their spare change or the decimal points in their usual banking transactions in his latest bid to revive the country's economy.

Referring to the Alexandria housing project funded by a group of businessmen and donations from the National Bank of Egypt, Sisi voiced thoughts that loose change could fund similar social projects.

"Can't we take change, say 50 pence, and put it in an account to fund such housing projects?" he asked.

He proceeded to give an example of when cashing a salary cheque for 1,250.80 pounds, "can't we donate that extra 80 pence or whatever?"

"We're talking about the transactions of 20-30 million people," Sisi said. "If we're able to use one pound of change, we can collect 10-12 million Egyptian pounds."

"If you would let me, I want to take this money to fund social projects," he added. But Sisi himself voiced uncertainty as to how the idea could be implemented.

"But how can I take it? I dont know," Sisi said before asking figures in the banking industry to look for a mechanism to apply his idea.

It was not long, however, before Egyptians flooded social media with tweets, memes and comments on Facebook.

The deluge of comments came to the backdrop of economic stagnation, despite Egypt's receipt of $23 billion in aid from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait over the past 18 months.

The IMF has also agreed last month to grant Egypt a $12 billion three-year loan to help support the government plug a budget deficit and rebalance the currency markets.

Many wondered what loose change could do when Sisi's other multi-million aid packages - including a second Suez Canal - have flopped.

[Translation: Do you know what loose change is? Loose change is what trickles down to the people from all the treasures in Egypt!]